What’s next? Memoirs from the womb?

Dr. Michael DeBakey, the renowned heart surgeon, received the Congressional Medal of Honor recently. He’s going to be a hundred years old this year, so apparently somebody figured they better get to it.

  • Wednesday, April 30, 2008 12:00am
  • Life

Dr. Michael DeBakey, the renowned heart surgeon, received the Congressional Medal of Honor recently. He’s going to be a hundred years old this year, so apparently somebody figured they better get to it.

DeBakey isn’t the oldest person to receive the medal, though. Teddy Roosevelt, for example, received the honor in 2001 – when he was 142 years old. No one seemed too surprised that he didn’t show up. He hadn’t answered a single e-mail.

You might think that a career as robust and accomplished as Dr. DeBakey’s would be chronicled in a massive memoir – either a hefty biography (a life story written by someone else) or an autobiography (one written in a car). Surely a towering figure like him, who has just received the country’s highest civilian honor, would have found time to write about himself during his nearly century of life. But, in fact, you won’t find any such book about DeBakey – only a so-called online digital document that somebody else wrote. Digital documents are like books, but don’t carry the high risk of paper cuts.

The digital DeBakey life story is just 902 words long – about nine words for each year of his life. And that’s all. DeBakey did once write a book called “The Living Heart,” but it wasn’t about him. It was about how the heart works. Go figure.

I thought about this the other day when I saw a newspaper story about a public figure who is about to write a memoir: Miley Cyrus. You may not have heard of her (Miley being a girl’s name) if you were born earlier than, say, the 1990s. She stars in the Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana,” which up until recently I thought was a town just outside of Billings.

Ms. Cyrus signed a book deal a few days ago to tell the story of her life, and it won’t be a measly digital version like Dr. DeBakey’s document. It’ll be an honest-to-gosh, hardbound book, just like the kind Hemingway used to write so Ernestly. I don’t how many actual words will be in Miley Cyrus’s memoir, but I’ll bet it will be more than 902 – and maybe twice as many syllables. By the way, did I mention that Miley Cyrus is 15 years old?

Now some people – certainly not me – may think it’s a little silly for someone just 15 years old to write a memoir. On the other hand, maybe it’s smart to do it while the memories are easier to recall and not so much has happened yet. “(Long, long ago, when I was around 8 years old …”)

Miley’s dad is Billy Ray Cyrus, who once had a big country hit called “Achy, Breaky Heart,” which I guess ties this essay back to Dr. DeBakey in an accidental way. By the way, Billy Ray Cyrus’s followup song, “Teensy, Weensy Spleen,” wasn’t nearly so successful.

In all honesty, I guess I’m mostly envious of Miley Cyrus. Face it, even at just 15 years old, she’s had a life interesting and worthy enough to convince the people at Hyperion Books to publish her memoir. Truth be told, I tried writing a memoir of my own when I was 15, and I couldn’t get even a nibble from a publisher. Here’s an excerpt:

“Woke up this morning with a zit the size of a Volkswagen on the end of my nose. A red Volkswagen. With three flat tires.

“My sea monkeys finally arrived yesterday. They don’t look anything like real monkeys. I think the same company that I bought those lousy x-ray specs from has snookered me again. I’m really having second thoughts about ordering those alligator eggs.

“If I can make it through today, I’ll have achieved a personal best: Six days wearing the same underpants. Eight days is my goal. Don’t know if I’ll make it before mom begins to notice, but even she says I should try to follow my dreams.

“Gonna drop by Dave’s house after school. He found a Playboy in a dumpster, so we thought we’d look at that for a while. If there’s time afterward, we might study for tomorrow’s math exam.

“I am going to wrap this up for tonight. Dad is yelling at me from upstairs to turn off my light and go to sleep. So that’s it for now.

“Have turned light back on. I was just startled out of my sleep by a scratching noise coming from my closet. I’m 95 percent sure there is a killer hiding in there. No, wait! The scratching noise is actually coming from the next room, where my little brother sleeps. Whew! Now I can go back to sleep.”

My granddaughter turns one year old next month. She’ll start speaking her first words any day now, and as soon as does, she and I will sit down to start work on her memoir. It’d be nice to get it in the stores by Christmas.

Pat Cashman is a writer, actor and public speaker. He can be reached at pat@patcashman.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe High Country
Car review: 2021 Chevy Tahoe 4WD High Country

By Larry Lark, contributor Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for short, in the… Continue reading

2021 Lexus NX 300h
Car review: 2021 Lexus NX 300h

By Larry Lark, contributor The 2021 Lexus NX 300h luxury sports utility… Continue reading

2020 Honda Insight. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Honda Insight

By Larry Lark, contributor Honda’s Civic and Accord have been bestsellers for… Continue reading

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

By Larry Lark, contributor With each passing year Toyota continues to refine… Continue reading

2021 Toyota Corolla XSE. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Toyota Corolla XSE

By Larry Lark, contributor Toyota’s venerable Corolla received a bumper-to-bumper, wheels-to-roof transformation… Continue reading

2021 Volkswagen Atlas. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

By Larry Lark, contributor Volkswagen’s full-size Atlas SUV received a bold refresh… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a call to action when a… Continue reading

A Dark-eyed Junco. Photo courtesy of RAS President Jay Galvin
Season’s tweetings: Christmas Bird Count returns

Rainier Audubon Society encompasses the South King County areas of Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Des Moines, Redondo, Renton and more while also extending out toward Mount Rainier.